Friday, October 24, 2008

Some fixes coming to Flatbush/Fourth intersection, but no "silver bullets"

On Tuesday night, the Transportation Committee of Brooklyn Community Board 2 heard the New York City Department of Transportation (DOT) detail some fixes for the congested intersection of Flatbush and Fourth avenues. However, DOT is not yet ready to take some additional steps to deal with this complicated transit hub.

It may have been prudence, not ignorance, that DOT representatives wouldn't discuss plans for Atlantic Yards--as of now, no one knows when and what would be built--but it still was odd they didn't address changes already aired (though not to be implemented?) in the Atlantic Yards environmental review.

A new "Barnes Dance"

In the presentation (PDF via Streetsblog), DOT's Christopher Hrones explained that, instead of eight seconds when all traffic is stopped, there will be a 31-second all-pedestrian phase (known as a "Barnes Dance") at the intersection of Flatbush and Fourth avenues.

"Unless you're a really fast walker, eight seconds isn't enough," he said, explaining that, in the new configuration, "You have less overall time [to cross], but more conflict-free time."

That was well-received, though committee members pointed out that a digital timer would be helpful to alert pedestrians to time available and also noted expressed concern that traffic agents, as they do now, would override the signal timing.

What about the "two-step"?

However, Hrones said DOT at this point was not addressing the intersection of Atlantic and Flatbush. "We'd love to improve conditions there, but in the course of this exercise we didn't identify any silver bullets," he said.

The Brooklyn Paper reported:
The project all but eliminates the “Fourth-to-Flatbush Two-Step,” a plan buried deep within the state’s Atlantic Yards draft environmental impact statement that routed traffic through neighborhood streets. Drivers heading north on Fourth Avenue towards Flatbush Avenue would have been forced to turn right on Pacific Street and then left onto Flatbush.

A Transportation spokesman did not respond to questions about what happened to the alleged Atlantic Yards traffic fix.


I'm not sure that represents an end to the two-step, but may be an unwillingness to bring up something controversial before its time. Note that Lumi Rolley of No Land Grab adapted a Brooklyn Paper graphic by adding the location of the Bear's Garden and a satellite image showing the low-rise residential housing on Pacific Street.

What the FEIS said

According to Chapter 19, Mitigation of the Atlantic Yards Final Environmental Impact Statement, there would be a 35-second "Barnes Dance" along with the "two-step":
PHYSICAL IMPROVEMENTS
It is proposed to modify the Atlantic Avenue/Flatbush Avenue/4th Avenue intersection as shown in Figure 19-1. The modification would eliminate a northbound “triangular” constraint that severely limits the individual capacities of each of the three major arterials. Fourth Avenue northbound would terminate at Atlantic Avenue instead of at Flatbush Avenue. The southbound movement from Flatbush Avenue to 4th Avenue would be maintained. In conjunction with this measure, a new urban plaza (an expanded Times Plaza) would be constructed, and pedestrian crossings would be modified. Also in conjunction with this measure, Pacific Street would be converted to eastbound operation between 4th and Flatbush Avenues, and Atlantic Avenue would be modified from the Build condition to include an eastbound left-turn lane at Fort Greene Place.

The complementary operational changes to the adjacent streets to accommodate this major restructuring of the Atlantic Avenue/Flatbush Avenue/4th Avenue intersection would include:
1. Elimination of northbound 4th Avenue between Atlantic and Flatbush Avenues;
2. Modifications to 4th Avenue lane designations between Dean Street and Atlantic Avenue;
3. Conversion of Pacific Street from two-way operation (in the Build condition) to one-way eastbound operation with two thru-lanes from 4th Avenue to Flatbush Avenue;
4. Installation of a new traffic signal and crosswalk at the intersection of Pacific Street and Flatbush Avenue;
5. Introduction of an eastbound left-turn lane on Atlantic Avenue at Fort Greene Place;
6. Striping a westbound right-turn lane on Atlantic Avenue for 150 feet approaching 3rd Avenue;
7. Construction of expanded pedestrian spaces at Times Plaza along with crosswalk changes; and
8. Areawide signal coordination and timing changes.

Terminating northbound 4th Avenue at Atlantic Avenue would eliminate the fixed linkage of Flatbush, Atlantic, and 4th Avenues, which currently results in queuing and effectively reduces each avenue’s capacity. Pedestrians would benefit from the expansion of pedestrian space at Times Plaza and from the introduction of a new 35-second all-pedestrian phase at 4th Avenue/Flatbush Avenue/Hanson Place.

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